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Martinsville turns triple play in win over Florence

Updated July 25 2017

The Mustangs capped off their week with a Sunday night game against Florence. It was the first game between the two clubs and it didn’t disappoint. In an exciting game the Mustangs got enough offense and huge performances out of the bullpen to lock down a 10-6 win.

The Redwolves sent Issac Rodgers to the mound against a Mustangs offense that had been coming on late. After a leadoff walk to Matt Berler, Rodgers gave up a RBI triple to Keaton Weisz and Martinsville had the early lead. Lee Sponseller made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly, giving him 17 RBI’s on the season.

The junior out of Virginia Wesleyan, Chance Pauley made his first start of the summer for the Mustangs. Pauley stranded a couple of runners in scoring position in the first two innings. He also got some additional run support in the second inning. A two-run single by Berler scored Kyle Wilkie and Emilio Abreu. Martinsville led 4-0 after two innings.

Florence found their timing against Pauley in the third inning. The Redwolves pushed across six runs on five hits and Florence had a 6-4 lead. Pauley would bounce back with two strikeouts in a scoreless fourth.

In the top of the fifth, Florence loaded the bases with nobody out but Martinsville stuck with Pauley. The Redwolves catcher Mason Meadows lined a pitch towards first that Berler caught. The runner from first was off the bag and Berler stepped on the bag and then threw to second to complete the triple play. That was the first triple play turned in Martinsville Mustangs history.

“I just let the instincts take over,” Berler said. “I saw the ball hit right at me…then it clicked that bases are loaded. It was a quick step to first and I saw the guy at second was still far off so I whipped it to Keaton and he made a good play to stay on the base. I’ve never seen a triple play or been apart of one either so it was a pretty cool experience for me.”

The defense jump started the Mustangs offense and changed the momentum of the game. Consecutive hits by Josh Smith and Weisz set up Martinsville in the fifth. An RBI single by Matt Dunlevy and a wild pitch tied the game.

Abreu led the sixth inning for Martinsville. After seeing a couple of pitches from Rodgers, the junior from Winston-Salem State launched his a ball over the left-field wall to give Martinsville the lead. Abreu finished a triple shy of the cycle.

“I was just looking for anything close and to try and hit the ball hard,” Abreu said.

Mustangs Hitting Coach Kevin Soine talked about Abreu after the game.

“He’s been having some good at bats. It’s good to see him come back from that injury and swing the bat well,” he said.

The Mustangs added a run on a sacrifice fly from Weisz and they led 8-6. Rodgers (0-1) finished with six innings in which he allowed eight earned runs.

Martinsville handed the ball to Patrick Orlando (1-0) in the sixth. Pauley ended with five innings and earned a no decision. Orlando threw two shutout innings and got some help from his defense along the way.

In the seventh with one out, Clay Casey lined a ball down the third base line. Mustangs third baseman Andres Sosa made a diving stop and then threw from his knees to get the out. The inning was capped off by a comeback that Orlando snagged out of the air.

Martinsville added a couple of runs in the eighth after Preston Szuch retired the Redwolves in order. The Mustangs then brought in Connor Riley to finish it off and the freshman made quick work of the Florence hitters.

Mustangs Pitching Coach Ryan Vruggink talked about the bullpen that provided four shutout innings of work.

“Orlando has been nails for us, Szuch has been really good, and Riley has stepped in well while Mike’s [Stephens] bene gone,” he said.

Martinsville Head Coach Danny Higginbotham talked about the offense and how things have turned around.

“They’re executing and doing the small things to win ball games,” he said. “It’s all them on the field. They had to make the decision to do that and we’re proud of them for turning things around. We’re hoping to keep that going after this break.”

Martinsville improved to 19-26 while Florence fell to 21-21. The Mustangs don’t play again until Thursday when they host Lexington County at 7:15.

The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 19th season in 2015, the CPL features 15 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. The CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 79 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum - Russell Wilson - won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at and follow us via Twitter @CPLBaseball.


Nathan Loprete